Archive for December, 2018

The Head Honchos review…December 16, 2018….

THE HEAD HONCHOS

BRING IT ON HOME

NOT FOR ME–OLD AND TIRED–WORK–COME STRONG–NEXT TO YOU–MEAN OLD WORLD–FIRE ON THE BAYOU–LUCKY’S TRAIN–WHISKEY DEVIL–THAT DRIVING BEAT–99 1/2 WON’T DO–GOING DOWN–SOUL FREE

Many of our readers who are old-school, long-time blues fans might recall a band from Chicago from back ’round 1988 called Howard And The White Boys.  Those guys were fronted by bassist/vocalist Howard McCullum, and the guitarist in those days was Rocco Calipari.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Mrs. Calipari had a baby boy, and they named him Rocco, Jr.  Well, he’s all grown up now, and Jr. and Pops have formed their own band, this one based out of Indiana, and they call themselves the Head Honchos.  They have just released an excellent set of thirteen slashing, hard-rocking blues cuts entitled “Bring It On Home.”  The obvious operative word here is hard-rockin,’–if you are a fan of Johnny Winter, SRV, or even Robin Trower, you will love this one!  All thru the program, both Rocco’s try and one-up the other, guitar-wise, and it makes for a helluva good show.

It doesn’t take long for this one to blast off into the stratosphere–dig the leadoff cut, as our heroes vow that workin’ to make others rich is “Not For Me,” with one searing solo after another.  The fellows let the funk hit the fan on a story to which many of us can relate—yeah, I may be “Old And Tired, but I can give my love to you.”  “Come Strong” has a fine Southern rock vibe, reminding us to always hang in, whether you’re right or wrong.

One of our favorites was the slow-burnin’, bump-and-grind of “Mean Old World,” a shout-out to Chess blues via this Walter Jacobs chestnut, and everyone gets to stretch out a bit.  Another favorite had a furious up-tempo beat built for the dance floor, as our heroes vow to “do the Pony, Jerk, and Twist And Shout,” with a horn section that kicks up “That Driving Beat.”  They stay in that danceable groove with a cool cover of a song we first heard by the Wicked Pickett back in the day, “99 1/2 Won’t Do.”  You can get on down with yo’ bad self on this cut, sho’ nuff!

The set closes with our final favorite.  Curiously, it brings to mind Warren Haynes-era Allman Brothers with the breezy, wistful “Soul Free.”

Rocco Calipari, Sr. and Jr. make a formidable duo as the driving force behind The Head Honchos.  With “Bring It On Home,” they hit on a winning formula for sure!  Play on, indeed, blues brothers!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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Jim Allchin review…December 15, 2018….

JIM ALLCHIN

PRIME BLUES

SANDY KEY MUSIC  JA-005

GIVE IT UP–DEVIL DON’T SLEEP–VOODOO DOLL–SNUGGLE UP–JIMMY’S BOOGIE–SUMMER SUNRISE–ENOUGH IS ENOUGH–FOUND THE BLUES–TWO BAD DREAMS–PAWN SHOP MAN–LOST MY MIND–UP TO DESTINY–TECH BLUES–LOGOFF

Jim Allchin hails from the Pacific Northwest, and is one of those rare artists who improves from album to album.  For his latest, he and his smokin’ guitar delve into observations of life, and it is named for one of his other loves–mathematics–and is entitled “Prime Blues.”  If that ain’t enough to whet your appetite, then dig this–the whole thing was laid down here in Music City at Blackbird Studios, with the honorable Tom Hambridge producing and adding drums throughout.  Several other special guests show up a bit later to round out the fun!

On the opening cuts, Jim offers up some sage advice over that blistering guitar.  First up, when you’re backed against the wall, “Give It Up to an inner power, and peace will come!”  More advice follows, as we all try to do what’s right, but, “Satan wants my name on the dotted line,” and that Hell-hound guitar fires the spirits up in “Devil Don’t Sleep.”  “Summer Sunrise” has some beautifully-arranged horns, and this sweet STAX-y, nugget reminds us of that place we can go for solace even “in the darkest storm.”

Now for the favorites.  Our neighbor from just down the street, Bob Britt, is on guitar on the roadhouse-rockin’ tale of how Jim discovered his Muse, “Found The Blues.”  Everyone gets down ‘n’ dirty on a topical story of continually bein’ told what to do, “Enough Is Enough,” with guest vocalist Mike Zito, who seems to have his prints all over several acclaimed releases of late.  “Tech Blues” has Jim on acoustic guitar and ol’ Bobby Rush on the harp for a story of society’s dependence on technology, and the consequences that go with it.  Bobby returns on vocals and harp on the Southern sweat ‘n’ soul of a man with some serious lover issues, “Two Bad Dreams,” with Jim’s slow-blues guitar the perfect foil for Bobby’s storytelling!

OK all you non-mathletes out there.  A prime number has only two factors–itself and one–but for Jim Allchin and “Prime Blues,” a lot of other factors went in to making this such an outstanding set.  There’s blazing blues guitar, killer vocals and material, and a literal All-Star backing crew!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Mike Zito review…December 14, 2018….

MIKE ZITO

BLUE ROOM

RUF RECORDS 1265

HOLLYWOOD–PULL THE TRIGGER–IT’S ALL GOOD–GRAVY JAM–LOVERING–SHOES BLUES–WAYS ABOUT YOU–SOUNDCHECK–LIGHTENING BUG–ROCKET MAN

Mike Zito has been a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood, along with Cyril Neville and Devon Allman.  He’s made blues, not war, and, he keeps coming back.  Yeah, we know that was a clever play on his last two album titles, and he’s also collaborated on recent projects from Freddie Pate and David Julia, along with several others as producer.  It wasn’t always that way, tho, because everybody has to start somewhere.  That brings us to this set, recorded in 1998.  Mike, on guitar and vocals, along with Doug Byrkit on bass and Brian Zielle on drums, were gigging around Mike’s hometown of St. Louis playing Cream and Hendrix covers.  However, young Mike desired more, and began to write the original material that comprises “Blue Room.”  The fellows had a thousand bucks for studio time, and went in at 9 AM after pulling an all-nighter at the club whose name serves as the album’s title.  As you listen, you can almost hear the seeds growing, leading to what Mike would eventually become, musically.

Things get started on a rockin’, party-themed note with the funky overtones of “Hollywood,” featuring Doug’s ultra-cool bass line that runs thru it.  Zito plays the gigolo  to the hilt, pleading with his jilted lover, “don’t point that thing at me,” “Pull The Trigger.”  Mike’s million-notes-a-second guitar lines ride this one for all its’ worth!  “Shoes Blues” uses more blistering guitar to describe a typical “day fulla blues,” while the set closes with a unique, shimmering, almost-dreamy version of Elton John’s “Rocket Man,” which served as one of our favorites.  The other?  It’s sho’ nuff hard to beat Zito’s killer slow-blues guitar on the powerfully-suggestive, Hendrix-influenced “Lovering,” which describes in graphic detail (for all you FCC fans), just exactly where that ring “resides!”

Kudos to Thomas Ruf for sharing with the blues community this intimate moment in time when a young artist’s career takes shape.  Creative differences and Zito’s well-chronicled battles with substance abuse led to the dissipation of this trio, but “Blue Room” is a brilliant snapshot of where it all began!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Neal And The Vipers review…December 13, 2018….

NEAL AND THE VIPERS

ONE DRUNKEN KISS

SLOW DOWN–NOT ONE TO COMPLAIN–MORE THAN EVER–RIGHT PLACE WRONG TIME–ONE DRUNKEN KISS–THERE’S A GHOST IN MY ROOM–AIN’T FOOLIN’ NOBODY–THE HUMP–ONE CHANCE WITH YOU–MY SWEET LITTLE HOSTAGE–UBANGI STOMP–THOSE EYES–SUGAR COATED LOVE

Neal Vitullo, guitarist for Neal And The Vipers, is one of New England’s top players, and the band as a whole has been a mainstay in the Northeast for 35 years.  On their latest release, “One Drunken Kiss,” their original material fits right in alongside cool covers that run the gamut from Sun, Excello, Chess, and even Dr. John.  Neal is on guitars and backing vocals, with Dave Howard on vocals and harp, Steven Bigelow on bass and backing vocals, and drummer man Michael LaBelle.  Neal coaxes a mighty fat tone outta his Telecaster thru the use of vintage amps, adding to the authenticity of the whole thing!

There are so many highlights, we gotta get started.  Leading off is a splash of Sun-kissed rockabilly boogie, “Slow Down,” where, “you be the wheel and I’ll be the spoke, baby.”  The Sun keeps on shining later in the set with a rockin’ read of Warren Smith’s “Ubangi Stomp, Ubangi style,” while our mismatched lovers in the title cut don’t know which way to turn after “One Drunken Kiss,” set over a decidedly-twangin’ arrangement.  Dave’s harp is on display for Marion Walter Jacobs’ Chicago-bluesy “One Chance With You,” while they close the proceedings with a trip down to the Excello swamp with a grungy-guitar-filled taste of that “Sugar Coated Love.”

We had one solid favorite, tho.  A band original, “There’s A Ghost In My Room” is eight-and-a-half-minutes of slow-blues Nirvana, with guitars blazing, reminiscent of Chicago’s West Cide legends such as Otis Rush and Jimmy Dawkins.

For Neal And The Vipers, “One Drunken Kiss” shows off their immense versatility, which has served them well in this fun ride that’s still going after 35 years.  Hope y’all are ready to dance, because these guys are sho’ nuff ready to bust out the grooves!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Laurie Jane and the 45’s review…December 12, 2018….

LAURIE JANE AND THE 45’S

LATE LAST NIGHT

THE ELIXIR OF SARA MARTIN

DOWN IN THE ALLEY RECORDS

LATE LAST NIGHT–ACHIN’ HEARTED–BLIND MAN–STRANGE LOVIN’–SUGAR–MY MAN–JOE TURNER–CAN’T FIND NOBODY TO DO WHAT MY DADDY DO–PLEADING–ATLANTA–I’M GONNA BE A LOVIN’ OLD SOUL–T’AIN’T NOBODY’S BUSINESS IF I DO

For the uninitiated, Sara Martin was one of the unsung heroes of the blues, especially in her hometown of Louisville, which is also the same city that Laurie Jane (Duggins) And The 45’s call home.  In loving tribute to one of the true pioneers of the blues, they present “Late Last Night–The Elixir Of Sara Martin” for Down In The Alley Records.  Sara recorded more than 100 sides for Okeh during the Prohibition-into-the-Great-Depression era, and was a contemporary of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, who wrote much of her own material.

Laurie has one of those classy, sassy voices that hearkens back to that aforementioned era, when the singer made the songs, and the whole band has a lot of fun with varied arrangements on this set.  Things get started with the title cut, as our heroine realizes that, “Late Last Night,” her lover had taken another woman.  It is set over a Southern-rock-styled arrangement, with screamin’ guitars and party-anthem horns!  A funky Memphis groove sets the tone for those “Achin’ Hearted Blues,”while “Can’t Find Nobody To Do What My Daddy Do” extols the virtues of that one-of-a-kind “New York lover,” done over a rockabilly-with-horns arrangement.

Thanks to the good folks at the Guitar Emporium, the band used vintage recording techniques on three cuts, giving them that old-school, “scratchy 78” sound.   Of those cuts, “Atlanta Blues” served as our favorite.  It features only Laurie on vocal and Cort Duggins’ ragtime piano, as our heroine begs for that proverbial “pallet on your floor” on this trip!

It is refreshing to see a project of the stature of “Late Last Night,” from Laurie Jane And The 45’s.  It pays a good-time tribute to one of the true “First Ladies’ Of The Blues,” Sara Martin!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Eden Brent review…December 10, 2018….

AN EDEN BRENT CHRISTMAS

WITH BOB DOWELL

YELLOW DOG RECORDS  YDR 2516

BOOGIE WOOGIE SANTA CLAUS–SANTA BABY–HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE CHRISTMAS–MERRY CHRISTMAS BABY–LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW! LET IT SNOW!–SANTA CLAUS IS COMIN’ TO TOWN–THAT’S WHAT I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS–BLUE CHRISTMAS–WINTER WONDERLAND–THE CHRISTMAS WALTZ–BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE–THE CHRISTMAS SONG (CHESTNUTS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE)

Eden Brent has long been one of our favorite vocalists and piano players–hey–they don’t call her “Little Boogaloo” for nothin’!  Back in 2008, she met London slide trombone player and arranger Bob Dowell on the Legendary Rhythm And Blues Cruise.  As the old folks’ say, one thing led to another, and then another, and the next thing you know, they were married!  A Christmas album was always on Eden’s “to-do” list, so, with some of the South’s finest sidemen, “An Eden Brent Christmas with Bob Dowell” has come to fruition!  There are twelve holiday favorites, and Eden’s knowledge of contemporary music coupled with Bob’s arranging skills give these classics a somewhat different spin from what we might be accustomed to.  Also of note is the fact that, as brilliant a piano player as is Eden, eight cuts feature Memphis legend Alvie Givhan on piano.

The swing’s the thing on the leadoff cut, the jolly old “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” who “never had a haircut, and never takes a shave!”  Eden remains close to the Eartha Kitt version on “Santa Baby” and its humorous look at the commercial side of Christmas!  The horn arrangement is exquisite on “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!,” while Eden’s version of “Blue Christmas” leans more towards the Fats Domino version (from “Christmas With Fats”) than Presley’s.

The more unique arrangements on a few cuts served as our favorites.  The rarely-heard intro verses of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” play out herein as a prelude to Mardi Gras, set over a cool second-line pattern.  And, hubbs Bob Dowell gives us his first-ever recorded vocal, playing our persistent paramour trying to persuade lovely Eden to stay the night, for “Baby It’s Cold Outside!”

Fans, for this Christmas season, do yourselves a big favor.  Pour yourself a half a drink more, and snuggle up next to the fire with that special someone and enjoy the holiday stylings of “An Eden Brent Christmas with Bob Dowell!”   Until next time…Happy holidays from Don And Sheryl Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Shaw Davis And The Black Ties review….December 8, 2018….

SHAW DAVIS

AND THE BLACK TIES

TALES FROM THE WEST

CHIN MUSIC RECORDS

TAKE MY HAND–WILLIE THE PIMP–TALES FROM THE WEST–MAMMA TOLD ME–FIRE INSIDE–KNOW WHERE YOU BEEN–ATOMIC GROOVE-GOTTA TRY YOU GIRL–MY FRIEND

Blues-rock trio Shaw Davis And The Black Ties–Shaw Davis on guitar, Patrick Stevenson on bass, and Bobby Van Stone on drums, with all sharing vocals–participated in the 2018 IBC’s, appearing as winners of the 2017 South Florida Regional Blues Challenge.  “Tales From The West” marks their second overall recording, following their live EP from back in January.  This one was also laid down at Legacy Studio, showing them as a force to be reckoned with in contemporary blues, and it features seven originals and two unique covers.

Fans, this is some heady, powerful blues.  A pulse-pounding, percussive beat sets the tone for the guitar goodies to come on the set opener, as our hero has been “across the sun, looking down at the people up above,” and beckons a lover to “Take My Hand.”  The title cut has Shaw willing to forego his fame just to “let my soul set free,” as his guitar leads us to the Promised Land.

There’s nothin’ quite like a good cheatin’ song, and our hero can see right thru the lie that “he’s just a friend,” on “Know Where You Been,” while the “Atomic Groove” is a stone shot of Sixties’-flavored psychedelia, with the underlying theme of “keep on groovin.”

Our favorite was the lone holdover from the live EP, “Mamma Told Me.”  Here, Shaw is given some sage advice, but, the snarling guitar lines tell us all we need to know about his ultimate choices/consequences.

To paraphrase (and clean up) the MC5 from back in my day, Shaw Davis And The Black Ties sho’ nuff kick out some serious jams, y’all.   The future of blues-rock is in very capable hands with a set as strong as “Tales From The West.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.